Sri Aurobindo Society has partnered with Organisation for Awareness of Integrated Social Security (OASIS) to develop ‘GRAMODAYA – A Rural Awakening’, that aims to chalk out a new path of development, by creating a backbone of rural development professionals, from the best brains available in rural areas.
Gramodaya is an inclusive educational initiative that tries to address a long-standing issue of appropriate education for different masses in India. While the current Indian education system influenced by its urban aspirations, the same aspirations are also given to rural children, in the name of universalisation.
While rural India lacks development because of shortage of rural development professionals, rural development education is given to urban children through those trained in high profile Institutes of technology and management or in elite colleges. These graduates then become the leaders of rural development according to their own urban values. The result is that neither rural children wish to live in rural India, nor urban children wish to go to rural India. Rural development suffers heavily as a consequence, and the entire cost and effort on education is too often wasted. This accounts for the high level of rural population internal migration in the tens of millions now seen, concentrating in urban areas.
Gramodaya tends to break this paradox in our national education system, and make appropriate education opportunities available to rural children. Through a chain of schools, similar to the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas but grounded in a rural context and experience, the Gramodaya Vidyalayas would be a “third leg”, grooming rural children into rural professionals, workers, farmers, and artisans of every sort.
Some would be involved as change agents and work with Government and NGOs in fuelling rural development. Others would have the options to stay in a rural context and receive both the academic and vocational fundamental education to pursue studies in the various professions—doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, SME business owners, transportation company managers—and replicate the wide range of capabilities and services available in urban India. The boundaries of the education provided is to be set wide enough to allow for the combination of academic and vocational skills so that this new rural middle class also includes technicians, shopkeepers, rural service franchisees, retirees investing their pension in rural startup businesses, successful farmers, co-op members, artisans and those who combine some work on the land with some other craft, profession, service or business.
The Gramodaya Vidyalaya schools will aim to work within the guidelines and framework of the National Institute for Open Schools (NIOS) and National Center for Educational Research & Training (NCERT) to create a well-educated, financially viable rural middle class. The advantages of this in terms of stemming internal migration, assisting families to stay whole, general health and well-being, environmental awareness and activity and valuing of a contemporary, 21st century rural life to the Nation of India can readily be imagined.